Mine Ban Policy

Last updated: 20 October 2015


The Transitional Federal Government (TFG) of the Somali Republic was created under a 2004 charter and occupies Somalia’s seat at the UN. Somalia acceded to the Mine Ban Treaty on 16 April 2012 and the treaty entered into force for the country on 1 October 2012. Somalia has not yet instituted national implementation measures, but stated that it is aware of its obligation and is “committed to doing so in the future and to reporting on these measures.”[1]

Somalia submitted its initial Article 7 report for the Mine Ban Treaty on 30 March 2013, but did not submit subsequent annual updates due on 30 April 2014 and 30 April 2015.

Somalia attended the Third Review Conference in Maputo, Mozambique in June 2014. Somalia did not attend the treaty’s intersessional Standing Committee meetings in Geneva in June 2015.

Somalia ratified the Convention on Cluster Munitions on 30 September 2015 and will become a state party in March 2016. Somalia is not party to the Convention on Conventional Weapons (CCW).

Several Somali factions previously renounced use of antipersonnel mines by signing the Deed of Commitment, administered by Geneva Call.[2] Most of the signatories that are still active are allied to the TFG.[3]

The Somalia Coalition to Ban Landmines has continued to engage on the Mine Ban Treaty with government officials, as well as with the Somali National Mine Action Agency.

Production, transfer, and stockpiling

Somalia has stated that it has never had production facilities for antipersonnel mines within the country.[4] Somalia’s initial Article 7 report states that “large stocks are in the hands of former militias and private individuals.” The report also states that Somalia is “putting forth efforts to verify if in fact it holds antipersonnel mines in its stockpile.” No stockpiled mines have been destroyed since the convention came into force for Somalia.[5] Most factions involved in armed conflict in Somalia are believed to possess mines.[6] Previously, demobilizing militias have turned in mines.[7] Some mines have been turned in by armed groups for destruction in the past.[8]

No transfers of antipersonnel mines were reported during 2012 or early 2013. The Monitor has reported transfers in previous years.[9] No open sale of antipersonnel mines has been reported since 2009.[10]


There have been no allegations of use of antipersonnel mines by government forces in Somalia. Previously, reports of use by al-Shabaab insurgents had been alleged in several news reports, but the Monitor is unable to verify these reports.[11] Recent reports seen by the Monitor alleging landmine use by al-Shabaab appear to refer to command-detonated bombs rather than victim activated improvised explosive weapons.[12]

Non-state armed groups (NSAGs) use improvised explosive devices (IEDs) in large numbers and media often refer to command-detonated IEDs and bombs as “landmines.”[13] Victim-activated mines and other explosive devices are prohibited by the Mine Ban Treaty, but command-detonated mines and devices are not. Monitor analysis of media reports indicates that most, if not all, of the recovered explosive weapons and explosive attacks attributed to mines involve command-detonated or time-detonated bombs. In October 2011, TFG and African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) forces discovered an IED-manufacturing facility in Mogadishu, after which UNMAS noted, “The presence of improvised pressure plates indicates that [al-Shabaab] intends to employ Victim Operated IEDs, against vehicles or dismounted troops.”[14]

In the past, antipersonnel mines were used by various factions in Somalia, but in recent years the Monitor has not been able to verify any reports of new use by any of the NSAGs operating in the country.

[1] Mine Ban Treaty Initial Article 7 Report (for the period 16 April 2012 to 30 March 2013), Section A (Somalia did not use the Article 7 report forms but submitted a report following the same format).

[2] Between 2002 and 2005, Geneva Call received signatures from 17 factions. See Landmine Monitor Report 2006, p. 1,064. In August 2009, Geneva Call informed the Monitor that eight signatories were no longer active. Email from Nicolas Florquin, Program Officer, Geneva Call, 26 August 2009.

[3] Geneva Call, “Non-State Actor Mine Action and Compliance to the Deed of Commitment Banning Anti-Personnel Landmines, January 2008–June 2010,” 24 June 2010, p. 4.

[5] Ibid., Sections B and G.

[6] The former TFG Deputy Prime Minister told the Monitor in 2005 that he believed militias in Mogadishu alone held at least 10,000 antipersonnel mines. Interview with Hussein Mohamed Aideed, Deputy Prime Minister, in Geneva, 15 June 2005.

[7] Photographs of the Disarmament, Demobilization, and Reintegration program available on the African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) website in July 2009 showed mines and improvised explosive devices. See AMISOM, “Pictures of some collected/surrendered Weapons and Ammunitions to AMISOM,” undated.

[8] See ICBL-CMC, “Country Profile: Somalia: Mine Ban Policy,” 28 June 2013.

[9] Between 2002 and 2006, the UN Monitoring Group on Somalia published a number of reports containing allegations of the transfer of antipersonnel and other mines from a number of countries, including States Parties Eritrea and Ethiopia, to various Somali combatants. See Landmine Monitor Report 2008, pp. 1,004–1,005; Landmine Monitor Report 2007, pp. 978–979; Landmine Monitor Report 2006, pp. 1,065–1,066; Landmine Monitor Report 2005, pp. 870–871; and Landmine Monitor Report 2004, p. 1,112. In response to the claims by the UN Monitoring Group, the Presidents of the Seventh and Eighth Meetings of States Parties wrote to the chair of the group for clarification and further information, but did not receive responses.

[10] In June 2009, Reuters reported the continued sale of mines and other weapons at markets in Mogadishu. One arms dealer claimed to sell mines (type unspecified, but likely antivehicle) for approximately US$100 apiece. “Arms Trade-Dealers revel in Somali war business,” Reuters (Mogadishu), 9 June 2009; for details including sellers and markets identified by the UN Monitoring Group, see also Landmine Monitor Report 2008, pp. 1,003–1,005.

[11] See, “Landmine danger persists in Somalia,” UN IRIN (Mogadishu), 1 February 2013; and Majid Ahmed, “Somalia struggles to deal with threat of landmines and unexploded ordnance,” Sabahi, 8 August 2013.

[12] See, for example: “5 members of Al-Shabaab killed after land mine they were planting exploded,” Wacaal media, 23 March 2015; and “Three soldiers die in landmine explosion in Jubbaland military base,” Goobjoog News, 17 September 2015.

[13] According to a June 2011 UN Monitoring Group report, “Improvised explosive device technology in Somalia is relatively low-tech compared with other conflict arenas. The most common explosives used in attacks are TNT and RDX, which can be extracted from mortars and other high explosive artillery shells. More rudimentary improvised explosive devices include anti-tank mines and medium-to-high-caliber ammunition that can be altered for remote detonation. As for fragmentation improvised explosive devices, bomb makers lay 3-10 cm pieces of rebar, nuts and bolts, and ball bearings cast in resin on top of the explosive.” UN, Report of the Monitoring Group on Somalia and Eritrea pursuant to Security Council resolution 1916 (2010), S/2011/433, 18 July 2011, p. 45, para. 138. The UN Monitoring Group found that antivehicle mines were modified for remote detonation and deployed as IEDs in Somalia, sometimes with additional metal objects (bolts, metal filings) welded to the casing to enhance the fragmentation effect. UN, “Report of the Monitoring Group on Somalia pursuant to Security Council resolution 1853 (2008),” S/2010/91, 10 March 2010, p. 50, para. 174. See, for example, recovery of “landmines” by African Union forces in, Abdulkadir Khalif, “Amisom forces uncover buried explosives,” Daily Monitor, 19 December 2011; and “Somalia: Landmine Blast Rocks Ethiopian Convoy in Beledweyne, Central Region,” Shabelle Media Network, 14 May 2012.

[14] UN Security Council, “Report of the Monitoring Group on Somalia and Eritrea pursuant to Security Council resolution 2002 (2011),” S/2012/545, 13 July 2012, para. 21, p. 167. Citing an unpublished UNMAS report, “Confirmed Find of Bomb Making Equipment – 12 October 2011,” UNMAS report, 13 October 2011.